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Latin American exports fell 16% in first half, IADB says

BOGOTA, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The value of Latin America’s exports contracted by 16% in the first half of the year, on the lower end of expectations, though uncertainty remains about the region’s recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) said on Wednesday.

The World Trade Organization had predicted a contraction of between 13% and 31% in the region’s exports in the first half.

Though the figure was on the low end of the estimate, it was more than the 13.3% fall in global trade recorded in the same period, the bank said in a report.

“The commercial shock is less than initially expected and there are some signs of recovery,” said Paolo Giordano, lead economist for integration and commerce at the IADB. “However, new outbreaks and confinement measures could affect the recovery of global commercial activity, which was already weakening before the health crisis.”

Latin American countries should strengthen export promotion, investor attraction efforts, digitalization and modernize customs, the report said.

“Countries should reduce - with pragmatic initiatives - the costs of transport, so that their economies can compete in the global production chains of the future,” it said. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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